November 30, 2002 - Purple, Spice, Everything Nice
   • I certainly hope, from the bottom of my soul, that you all had a merry St. Andrew's Day. I know I did, despite my having worshipped lesser deities in times of weakness.

   Such deities include, but are not limited to: St. Louis, the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure and The Saint, which though I never saw, had a real bad ass little stick figure guy going for it.

   If for no other reason, my St. Andy's Day went well because this exchange greeted me soon after I came home for the night.

"Mike's Hard Lemonade? By yourself? Alcoholic!"

"I was thirsty, and I couldn't get the Coke bottle open!"

   Apparently, the youngest Couture doesn't like egg nog, milk, Tropicana Twister, Diet Coke, Minute Maid lemonade or cranberry sauce. I'll cut him some slack on passing on blue cheese dressing and Red Hot.

   The Whale City Bed and Breakfast had guests these past four days -- a delightful family for the holiday, but just their agreeable son for the past two days. He's generally pretty quiet ... keeps to himself. Very vocal playing video games, but skilled. Likes to drink. Can't make Pasta Roni worth a shit, but hey, at least he washed the dishes. Lord knows he picked up everything else from his mother's side.

   He also doesn't seem to be a blanket hog, though he dominates the good portion of a queen mattress by lying in the middle and liking to roll in his sleep. But perhaps I've said too much ...

   I can think of few better ways to spend 48 hours that just living with my brother. In all honesty, and as one might expect, we are the complete and entire best match for each other -- well, at least he is for me. We're just entirely out of the same mold ... with the only notable exception being sports. There's little stuff, but it's the kinds of differences that bring us closer together.

   I don't think I've ever known a pair of siblings, aside from the kinds out of broken homes who raise each other kind of deal, who get along better than Matt and I.

   Ever since it became evident Matt would follow me to BU, I always had the thought that maybe, at some point in the future, we would be roommates. It'd be a first, since in the wide expanses of Western Massachusetts we needn't share bedrooms and thus each had our own (that we were almost never allowed to go in for fear of sullying them), but I always thought of him as being the one fail safe ... the one person I knew I would never have any major gripes with living with. Plus, there'd be no awkwardness in bringing anything up that did arise since this is a kid who I've seen bathe, for God sakes.

   While it may seem like all I'm doing is embrassing poor Matthew Paul, if he feels like resurrecting his little journal and slinging back, he's more than welcome. He probably remembers some such instance of pant crapping or what have you.

   I mean, he willingly spent 16 hours of his Thanksgiving vacation holed up in my apartment by himself, when our house and all its snowy splendor would have been equal to if not greater than. That alone is humbling to me.

   If you're an only child, it's something you never truly can understand. And I do feel sorry for you. You can have a close relationship with a parent, a spouse, a significant other, a lifelong chum ... but it's never going to be the same. I genuinely believe you can't ever duplicate the bond when it's strong. And for the two of us it always has been.

   It's one of those feelings you can't quantify with words, if this exercise in space filling has proven anything. It's just palpable. I don't know what I'm buying my family, my Meg, anyone ... except Matt. Two things in my head already.

   I'm glad he was here. I felt bad we couldn't do more, or he couldn't stay longer. I'll be sad next week when December kicks off without him. If I can't even verbalize it to him, I certainly can't do it to a whitescreen. But I have to try, because he needs to know.

   It's one of those feelings not even payday can appease, especially because Thursday, my first loan payment goes out to the feds.

   Even as I throw out all the Rent-a-Center flyers that magically appear in poor houses, it's nice to know I'll be renting-to-own a piece of parchment paper for the next ten years. And that the wee one will be four years behind ... some things never change.


November 29, 2002 - Mario Eats ... Tubs of Crisco!
   So here's a question. Exactly who decided it was OK to abbreviate Christmas as X-mas? I understand crucifixion was the greatest sacrifice ever made, but do you really think the Lord wants to be reminded about it every December? We don't celebrate the lives of shooting victims with 21-gun salutes, do we? Stabbing victims by going to fencing competitions? Think about it!

   • Ah, the day after Thanksgiving. Like I even have to say it ... bring out the commercial protestors!


-- "The TV God" Celebrating 'Buy Nothing Day' on Fifth Avenue.

   On this, the most prolific shopping day of the year, of course there has to be someone out there to crap on the parade. An actual movement. The Great American Smokeout, but with buying stuff.

"Somewhere in Beverly, Massachusetts, Gary Chamberlain prepares his rebuttal for the Kmarts of the world. "In reply to 'Buy Nothing Day' I decided to go all out," he writes later, by email. 'I put up my Mohawk, donned my red "communi$m" t-shirt, and walked out to find my friends . . .'"
-- From the official site of Adbusters, as listed above.

   Really, I'm just curious about the agenda of such protestors. Your general person against 'conspicuous consumption.'

"People have never really questioned consumption," said Kalle Lasn, author of Culture Jam and co-founder of Adbusters magazine. "People like to think when we buy something, we're helping the economy, but the idea we're also killing the planet is not something they've thought about."
-- Quoting this Wired article.

"Twenty percent of the world's population consume 86 percent of the world's natural resources. That leaves 14 percent for the 4 or 5 billion people in the third world. People feel (this disparity) is one of the root causes of the war on terrorism that we're forced to fight now. A lot of people are linking Sept. 11 and Buy Nothing Day, partly because our leaders urged people to go out and consume."

   Here's my problem with all of this. What exactly does wearing a TV on your head and screaming about "conformity" have to do with me wanting to buy things? If you want to call me a glutton, do so. It's likely true. But don't tell me I'm trying to conform because I want to go buy a rowing machine and a Dodgers jersey. I understand that such spectacle is how you attract people to your cause, but the problem with a "culture jam" as you call it is once you've got my attention, I don't know what I'm listening to!

   I don't doubt for one second the holidays have become a consumer joke. Overconsumption? In America? You think they're full of it?


-- Look at the jowls on these women!

   Given my supposed political lean, I should be ripping on these people. And I think when I first sat on the couch, I had every intention to. But you know what? We do spend too much damn money at Christmas. We are in too much credit card debt. They're kinda right.

   But I'm sorry. My wanting this jersey for Christmas is not the reason Osama bin Laden wants to kill me. You're gonna have to paint in a few more numbers to sell me on that, Mr. TV Head.

   As an aside, the only thing I bought today was a $2 Lunchables snack for dinner. Lean Ham, Swiss, and dissention. And here I thought the stabbing pangs were from the sodium.

   And I really gotta stop writing these things at 4 a.m.


November 28, 2002 - With 60% Less PC


-- Don't try to tell me these didn't look good after so long in the closet.

   • The apartment was christened about five months ago, the table about four. The turkey couldn't have been dead more than a couple weeks. The celery, stuffing, gravy and the rest was all prepared this morning.

   Hell, even the oven wasn't a week old.

   It's safe to say absolutely nothing about this Thanksgiving for the French Family Cooch could have been easily predicted at last Thanksgiving.

"If it's Thanksgiving Day and I'm home from college, things are pretty formulaic. Up early, meet with some portion of the Agawam crew, go to the football game, then head off to Washington, Mass., for a Couture family Thanksgiving. Only this year did I really start to enjoy the whole Thanksgiving thing; maybe it's my age."
-- It's not all that surprising I didn't go to this year's game -- won by Agawam 26-0, thanks very much -- because after four years, there's just no one there I know anymore. And I really don't need to freeze from the ears down and see the cheerleaders look younger and younger.

"I'm just glad I don't have to watch any stupid Thanksgiving Day parades... hate that. I hate televised parades on Christmas, on New Year's... whenever they're on. So boring, stupid commentary, don't even get me started."
-- Woke up to the last 45 minutes of the Macy's. I will say nothing more than "Baha Men performing 'Crocodile Rock' on Animal Planet float.

"After the game, and a gas up/snack in Westfield, it was time to drive up Routes 20 and 8 to Washington, and Uncle Norman's farm. OK, it's not still a farm, and given how rolling it is, it couldn't have been much of one. But for the sake of everyone in the family, it's the farm."
-- Covered with nine inches of snow, thus keeping everyone inside, it probably would have been a little more crowded than one would like. But I do miss everyone, and it would have been grand to hear Mom crow about my accomplishments while I just prayed she'd stop.

"Got to see my grandmother, who agreed I'm losing my hair, and suggested I go to a doctor. I love my grandmother, she's worth the trip alone. Best pies anywhere... I dare you to try and compete!"
-- The dare is off the table, as Grandma Couture is now in a nursing home likely unaware of what today even was. Honestly, I still can't talk about this.

   I suppose I could have figured that my guest that day would be across an ocean one year in the future. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

   While I ate shrimp, vegetables and dip, rolls, rice, breakfast sausage, cereal, orange juice, Guinness (and, only then, turkey) with my family in Whale City, she and flatmates held a true native celebration. Sitting on the floor barefoot, with tasteful headdresses of course, they ate their full bounty with all the fervor their costumes would draw stateside.

   I would have been offended, had the natives I know not already drawn from me a "settlement" for their "mental anguish."

   After dinner, we watched and slept. I went to work, while my mother achieved her goal for the fiscal quarter -- there's now Christmas decorations in my place so beautiful, my rent should go up.

   Many miles away, the she from above was playfully kicked off a couch, impaled her foot on a chair rung and smashed her head against a wall. A nice bipolar set of messages to get in a five-minute span.

   I tell you all this to embarass anybody, and certainly not to do weave some long "this is what I'm thankful for" dreck that I wouldn't read. You got all you'll get from me in print on Monday. I say it because it's on milestone days like this, the Thanksgivings and the Christmases and the birthdays and such, that you take stock. Events on days like this resonate, just because they're days that stand out. I was eating Grandma's apple crumb pie, not my mother's cherry one. I played football, not Super Monkey Ball 2.

   I was holding someone close, not worrying about them from afar.

   So no poignancy here or anything. Just glad my family came, and that I continue to make them proud. Go Bluebirds!


November 27, 2002 - Not A Chicken ... You're A Turkey!
   • Because yes, I do just have to crap on everything.

The Top 10 Things I'm NOT Thankful For This Thanksgiving Eve

   10. Painful, painful gas. Maybe it was the scrambled eggs soaked with Frank's Red Hot. Maybe it was the tub of salsa that took the place of pasta sauce. Or maybe all the high pulp orange juice I've been drinking. Or maybe it was all of them combined that gave me the friggin bends last night. Whatever it was, good Lord. I think my diaphragm was full of Pop Rocks, Josta and glass.

   Just the price I pay for making jokes about male pregnancy.

   9. Slushees on the sidewalk. I'll stomach snow. It's white; it's fluffy; it makes landfills like Gary, Indiana, feel almost homey (least until the flotsam cake shits all over everything). I'll take a little rain. It's wet; it's tremedously romantic to kiss in; it's the thing that made scenes in movies such as Singin' In The Rain, Black Rain, Reign of Fire and License To Drive the historical cinema that they are.

   They should never breed. Their kid's heavy ... just lays around and leaves his shit everywhere.

   8. People who say Theo Epstein is too young. King Tut became King of Egypt at the age of nine. Theo Esptein became king of the Red Sox at 28. What's the big deal? Theo just has to run what seems like a humongous nation!

   Larry Lucchino clearly didn't want to give this kid the job straightaway, thus his seeking Billy Beane to run the Red Sox. But he didn't get him, and Theo was taking the team over at the next possible break. It just happened to come now.

   To succeed in the long term, this team needs someone to build up the farm system and plan for the future. Why not get the young guy who'll be running those teams? Plus, the die is already cast for the current team's title run -- either in gets done in the next two years, or we're waiting a while.


   And King Tut ... he's got a curse going for him now. For him.

   7. The Minnesota Vikings. Not only do they have Randy Moss, the single most morally worthless professional athlete in American history, they have lost each of the four times I've picked them to win this season.

   Conversely, I am 5 for 6 with both the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. Also of note, the Vikings once lost an NFC Championship Game by a whole lot of points.

   6. Working for the weekend, the weekday, the everything. "So, are you coming home for Thanksgiving?" No, I'm wokring all week long. "Oh, that sucks. Well, Happy Thanksgiving!"

   I can't fault anyone for asking, and really, I'm glad people still like me enough to. But it's rare to get the same question, worded essentially the same, from four different people in the same day when it's not, "Do you ever shut up?" or "How much are you paying Meg to date you?"

   5. Porn IMs. At least porn spam is funny, because it often contains pictures and bad Japanese translations to English -- as with TeenHeaven.

"Little Alice was playing in the garden near swimming-pool -- she always did that after school. Mr Scott -- her father business partner -- came to their house and while wating for the meeting walked about the garden where he came across Alice. He had a daughter of the same age and Alice was one of her friends. He liked to look at her when she was playing -- she was wearing miniskirt and that was a chance to look at her panties and beautiful legs. But that day he got more than just looking..."

   All porn IMs contain are a link, a winking smiley face and some word misspelled poorly enough to actually make me angry.

   By warning them, am I really teaching that computer on the other end a lesson? Does it matter to a person who once responded to burning a pizza in an oven by swearing at it?

   4. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve. I'm not putting the picture up again. You can scroll back to Nov. 8th just as easily as I can.

   3. People who think they're funny because they found a monkey who resembles George W. Bush, and then e-mail it to their friends eight thousand times with some tag like "President Bubbles?! :)." I'm hardly a supporter of everything Dubya has done, but come on. At least be original ... get a picture of Al Gore and put it next to Michelin Man muscle poses.

   That is, if you can fit Tub Ass in frame. It's not just a crime no one did a documentary on Fat Albert pounding Ben & Jerry's while watching How Stella Got Her Groove Back for New Year's, it's a national tragedy.

   2. That I looked at The Onion's How To Make A Hand-Turkey. It's just disgusting enough to give me shivers and aches in my wrist at the thought of it. Plus I so knew it was going that way while it loaded.

And topping things off for Gorgefest 2002 ...

   1. The idea that because I am a man, I only like to cuddle because I'm trying to get laid.

   What, I can't like to hug and nuzzle?! Well screw you!

   And Happy Thanksgiving, bitches.


November 26, 2002 - More Than When I Left
   • Look out kids ... it's fantasy angst.

   Come to find out I lost my game in the Standard-Times league this week by the unenviable score of 30-29. Rest assured, there were three players on my bench who, if they'd been started, would have won me the game outright. But it wouldn't even had taken that ... if Washington Redskins kicker James Tuthill had not missed an extra point against the Rams on Sunday, I could have salvaged a tie. But alas, I again made the wrong plays.

   The league pays two ways: won-loss to any who qualify for the playoffs (three division winners in 5-4-5 breakdown, plus three wild cards) and total points (top five of 14 overall). With the defeat, I stand at 5-7 (two games out of a wild card) and 417 points (9th, 145 behind leader, 109 behind 5th place). With two weeks left, being on a three game losing skid has likely finished me off.

   What has left me the most agitated is I easily had one of the five best drafts, despite drawing #13 in the 14-team order. Roster as of now, with some players (Keenan McCardell, Jeremy Shockey) having been jettisoned since September:

QBs: Brett Favre, Trent Green
RBs: Charlie Garner, Tiki Barber,
Edgerrin James, Amos Zereoue
WRs: Eric Moulds, Curtis Conway, David Patten
Dennis Northcutt, Chad Johnson
Ks: James Tuthill, Kris Brown
D/Special: Pittsburgh

   My problem all season has been playing the wrong guys. If I had played the highest scoring players every week so far, my 5-7 becomes 7-5, my 9th place 417 becomes a 1st place 615 (53 pt. lead). True others could say the same, but I would clearly be in the money with the playoffs upcoming.


   To end this quickly, in Mark Coen's Yahoo league I am also 5-7, and can finish no higher than fifth of 10. My only successes have come in the no-money Daily Free Press league, where I'm in third at 8-4 on the strength of Rich Gannon, Marshall Faulk and Donald Driver.

   I am a failure and one who discusses it publicly. Now let us never speak of it again.

   Let's instead talk about waking up from a nap to a rap-rap-rap on your door, to opening that door, and to having a man say,

"Hi. We're here to deliver your new stove."
-- "Oh. OK. It's in the kitchen."

   Pretty nice stove. Cooks and everything.


November 25, 2002 - 2(Fast) For ___ Food
   It's become evident over the past few days that some of you are leaving comments, but they're not posting to the system. I get an e-mail every time one is sent, but they're not all showing up on the site for some reason beyond my comprehension of "compu-bitch."

   I'm not happy, but should you notice what your posting isn't showing up, feel free to throw in the old guestbook on the left side. Contrary to what one reader may think, I still do read it from time to time.


Company: The Telegraph
Position: Staff Writer
Location: New Hampshire
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: $15,000 to $25,000
Ad Expires: December 25, 2002
Website: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

Description: The Telegraph has an entry-level opening for a staff writer to cover weekend assignments and two towns in our circulation area, working a five-day schedule from Saturday through Wednesday. Applicants should have bachelor's degree and a diverse portfolio of published writing samples from college newspapers, internships, and/or previous experience on weekly or small daily newspapers.

   Send resume, cover letter and published writing samples to:
Patrick Meighan, Regional Editor,
The Telegraph, Box 1008, Nashua, NH 03061.
-- As posted to JournalismJobs.com

   • I should be clamoring over this. This link should have been my lifeline.

   My last day on the job should have been May 17, though I likely would have crawled back to the golf course or something just to keep me occupied. I should have struggled, starting a resume drop around Boston, then statewide, then regionwide. By now I should have been open to just about anything, if not desperate enough to have taken any little morsel I could extract.

   This should have been my dream save.

   It'd be far from a sure thing, don't get me wrong. I never wrote a word for publication there, short of a few trivia questions each "Today's Scoop" on the weather page. But I'd likely have worked alongside my interviewer, have a desk full of character witnesses and be willing to move in and throw full-bore into an area I'd at least been a resident of for three months. A leg up if nothing else.

   I'd be able to get a nice place in a tax-free state. I could end each work week with nighttime basketball, and maybe finally get a win after seven weeks of failing. I'd be twenty miles closer to Boston. I'd have golf partners in the summertime, and baseball games to go to. I'd be writing. I'd have towns to cover. Real stories, every day. It'd be everything I ever wanted.

Except now ... it's just not.

   Because my unemployment lasted under 24 hours, not over 24 weeks. I took what I could get ... so because of almost solely where I'd gone to school. I lived in a hotel, then on a futon and then in an apartment. The first night, I slept on the hardwood floor.

   I was bad at my job, then mediocre, and only now am I approaching barely above average. I did nothing in my free time, and really, still do.

   But I kinda like that.

   I kinda like Whale City. I like walking to work. I like adding commas, reading obits and laying out page two sometimes. I like cable TV in the office. I like vending machines with Lemonade flavored Mike & Ike. I like my coworkers, even if we aren't that social outside 25 Elm. I may even like linguica and kale soup someday ... but probably not.

   And I like writing.

It's Not About Funny Shoes Anymore
-- Suffice to say, big ups to my peeps in the Loop.
May the grease of Denny's late night forever clog our arteries.

   Even if I didn't have the column, I don't think I'd try making the jump back north. There's no real one reason why. It's more a total package.

   I have a great job. I have a great place to live. I have a amazing family, an irreplacable group of friends and a ... well, you know.

   I don't like my hours, but I'm used to living to them. I don't like my neighborhood, but it's sufficient to live safely.


   The formula is just really balanced right now, and just like in college, I'm steering clear of math.

   There a few nicer New England cities to be in than Nashua, New Hampshire. It's just for the moment, there's no need to abandon ship.


November 24, 2002 - Drinks, Nachos and French Fries
   • While I have no intention of posting any more of it, I highly recommend you go read the life advice my correspondent offers up for married couples, as opposed to yesterday's discussion for singles. If nothing else, I commend him for staying true to his word and consistent in his thought process.

   And for being creative. Real creative.

   As much as I want to begin a full, healthy dialogue on the topics breached within, the whole point of using "Cooch" gratuitously on these pages is to just make people think they're headed for what I like to call "fuck talk." Though I have honed my skills in hopes of being a cunning lingu... NO. BAD.

   Worthless puns amuse me way too much.


   I think it's better for all involved if I stick to the sins I have no problem publicly revealing.

   • Gambling my money.
   • The "Last thing to go through Princess Diana's mind? The dashboard!" joke.
   • Voting for Mitt Romney.


   Despite all efforts to steer clear from the wagering world, two hours of Vegas TV awaited me when I came back from a rare pub trip. Back-to-back episodes of Real World: Las Vegas, plus a Sin City overnight for one A. N. Smith.

   I have now seen four of the eleven shown episodes of the RW's 12th season, yet am on my second pregnancy scare. While my mind is troubled with the implications of such behavior, I am already halfway to completing my audition tape for Season 13, which actually will be filmed ... know what, I can't even imagine. They live in a Las Vegas casino, for God sakes.

   And as for Anna, all you need to know is she can't even fit in at a strip club anymore. Not literally of course, but given America's gastric ingenuity, bless her, that day can't be far off either.


November 23, 2002 - A Sucker For Guitars
   His bumper sticker made a statement, succinct and strong. "Stop bitching. Start a revolution." Get out there. Fight the power. Free whomever the guy on the other sticker was not named Mumia Abu-Jamal. I felt empowered. Ready to get out and fight my fight.

   Now if I could only figure out what those stickers were doing on a immaculate Mazda 626 driven by an elderly man in a cardigan.

   • Driving in Boston has a way of making you feel empowered, if you know what you're doing.

   1. Never flinch. Regardless of whether or not it's true, know where you're going. Don't dawdle. Speed in space. Brake only if necessary. Create the illusion that you are a force to be reckoned with. That said ...

   2. Let someone in every now and then. Don't be a dick. If they've been waiting to pull out for a minute, and it's not going to hurt you any, give a wave. And always offer one up if someone lets you in. And use all five fingers.

   3. Take initiative. If you and another car pull up to a multiple-way stop, and they flinch, go. Don't wait ... start the car rolling and move. Loose lips sink ships, and being stopped is not getting you anywhere. But always give them that one last millisecond to make up their mind, because of the most important rule.

   4. Assume every other being in time-space is both an asshole and an invalid. One-way street? Look the other way. Pedestrian? Stare them back to the curb. Illegal left turn? Make sure they're not doing it.

   Add your own as appropriate.

   I was in the city just long enough to see people dancing on Ryder trucks outside Soldiers Field for relatively obvious reasons, mock Matt's military haircut and make the best kind of music purchase: one where the impulse buy is just as solid as the reason for the visit.

   So that's why I didn't call/IM/visit/e-mail, even though you don't care.


   Now, because I'm done, and am always open to assurances I'll go to hell, I yield the floor to a correspondent with some life advice.

   1. Playing with dynamite. Petting on a date is a lot like handling a stick of dynamite with a lighted fuse. Let's say Dick and Jane wear heavy work gloves on their first date. They park in a private location and light the end of a long fuse on a quarter-stick of dynamite. The first night, they pass the dynamite back and forth a couple times and then snuff out the sputtering fuse with their gloves. No harm done. There's still plenty of fuse left and the gloves protect their fingers.

   Next week, they have another date. Again, they wear their gloves and get out the dynamite. But when they light the dynamite this time, they don't start with a new fuse; they begin right where they snuffed out the fuse the last time. Again, they snuff the fuse after passing the dynamite a few times. Again, there is no damage and no one gets hurt.

   Dick and Jane now look forward to playing with dynamite on their dates. And each time, they re-light the fuse right where they snuffed it out the last time. At the end of each date, they notice the fuse is getting shorter and shorter but each is afraid to suggest that they stop playing with dynamite.

   One night, they become so engrossed with passing the dynamite back and forth that both forget to check the unburned part of the fuse. Suddenly BLAM! there is an explosion and nothing is completely the same for either one again.

   2. Is there a limit to kissing before marriage? Yes, there is a limit.

   People who plan to remain chaste until after marriage must make kissing a means of communication, not a means of sexual arousal. When kissing ceases to be communication and becomes foreplay, it has gone too far.

   Premarital kissing should be a form of communication but should not become an activity in and of itself.

   There is no doubt that kissing is an ancient Biblical means of communicating affection and esteem for another person. It becomes dangerous when it ceases to be communication and becomes foreplay. Kiss as a greeting or a farewell. Kiss to express joy or congratulations. But don't engage in the type of kissing which is designed to arouse desire. This includes deep, open-mouth, tongue-thrust kissing, especially when associated with petting or pressing the pelvic areas together. In persons with normal sexual responses, this type of kissing is the kind of foreplay which can lead to sexual intercourse.

   3. Is petting wrong? Before marriage, all petting is wrong. After marriage, not only is petting all right, it's often needed in order for the wife to reach orgasm during intercourse.

   The clinical term for petting is foreplay. This is the process of using the hands, lips, mouth, or tongue to help cause such sexual excitement for both husband and wife that the next step is sexual intercourse, which continues to the point of orgasm.

   Now, here is the reason single persons should never engage in petting, heavy necking, or deep [french] kissing. Since these activities are means of foreplay, normal persons of a wide range of ages will become ready for sexual intercourse by doing these things for several minutes. Since the Bible forbids unmarried persons to have intercourse, getting the body ready for it without having it is foolish. You may not be able to stop in time.

   4. Should newly-weds have sex the first night of the honeymoon? The Bible is silent on this topic. Therefore, the law of logic will be applied.

   Many new husbands will assume the expected thing is to have sex the first night and new wives may assume the same thing. Although there is no Biblical advice on this topic, the law of logic seems to indicate that sex the first night may not always be a good idea. Study the fictional parable outlined below, and learn from it.

   This fictional parable may be typical of weddings you know about or will know about eventually:

   "Dick and Jane were raised in an evangelical church. They met in the youth group and many of their dates were church-related. Both accepted Jesus Christ as a Personal Savior as preteens and both are virgins.

   They are married at 6:00 P.M. in a small, formal church wedding. The normal stress of the wedding day has been exacerbated by a late florist delivery, the photographer's going to the wrong church, and one usher missing rehearsal because of work. By the time the ceremony, the receiving line, the pictures, and the reception are behind them, the bride and groom have been on display for over five hours, much of that time on their feet.

   The pastor's premarital counseling consisted of short homilies on the give and take of marriage, the importance of making Christ the head of the home, and a vague reference to the joy of sex as God's gift for those who save themselves for marriage.

   Neither sets of parents have done much to prepare their children for marital sex life. On the wedding day, the groom's mother asks if he has clean underwear for the honeymoon (he does). The bride's mother meant to discuss natural family planning the month before the wedding but planning for the ceremony always seemed to intervene.

   The newly-weds arrive at their honeymoon haven near midnight following a two-hour drive over rain-swept highways in a borrowed car. Dick has made no plans for birth control or a lubricant. He has read about the need to perforate Jane's hymen the first time they have sexual intercourse but he has not discussed this with her. Fortunately, they overcome their shyness enough to come to the mutual agreement that they are too physically and psychologically exhausted to try a new experience that night. They dress for bed and fall asleep in each other's arms without stopping to realize it is possible to "sleep together" without having sexual intercourse.

   They awake at ten the next morning; both still virgins. Jane confides that her doctor, who is a Christian OB/GYN discussed Natural Family Planning with her six months ago. Dick orders a room-service breakfast and then slips down to the hotel drug store to buy a lubricant.

   During the first family devotions of their new marriage, they ask the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom and guidance as they experience sexual intercourse for the first time.

   Don't think for a second that the Holy Spirit has no interest in sexual intercourse within the sanctity of marriage. He knows that Satan and his demons want to destroy Christian marriages and He is all the more committed to helping them prosper.

   Dick and Jane joyously consummate their marriage at 3:10 P.M. on the day after their wedding."


   I actually have lived under some of these rules, though not at all for the same reasons. I'd be extremely interested to hear this guy's take on the abuse scandal, since we're well beyond the "few bad apples" scenario, especially in the Northeast.


November 22, 2002 - Still Live At Five


"I don't get many chances to play against a player as tall as me, so I was very excited. I know I'm not the [most awkward albino man giant] player in the NBA.''
-- 7'6" Yao Ming, left, on 7'6" Shawn Bradley.

   • The British Bulldog is dead. Admittedly this story's a week old, but it was in ESPN Magazine, which I can't say I ever trip over myself to pick up at the newsstand. It's the kind of thing you read when you're at the Jiffy Lube, and the alternative in uncomfortable silence, or the "knowing nod" as you pretend to know what the mechanics are talking about.

   I would love, just once, to be in that position the lube jockeys get at least 20 times a day. The "I'm fully aware you have no fucking clue what I'm talking about, but to save face, you're nodding like an idiot." But anyway ...

   I suppose one can't be surprised that a wrestling superstar of the past was crippled by drugs, but Davey Boy Smith would be one of those I'd say I'm genuinely surprised about. It's not because he wasn't built ... it's probably more to do with his peak being around the time when I was really into wrestling, which came when I was 13 and incredibly naive to such things. It's also undoubtably because he was a face, but more comedic and affable than even the biggest ones. He had this underdog quality back in the early '90s, this friendliness that even stuck with when he came back as a jeans-wearing street thug.

   Honestly, I think I met him once. At the only wrestling show I ever attended ... in downtown Springfield. He shook hands with fans after his match ... or I could be crazy. It was at least ten years ago, I don't know.

   But he's dead now. Of a heart attack, of years and years and years of growth hormone and steroids and painkillers and all of it. And I don't feel any remorse beyond, "Oh, he's dead. That's too bad for his family." I have little patience and little sympathy for people who abuse their bodies. Be it smoking, drugs, booze ... it's callous, it's cold, but it's me. Anyone who doesn't think so should listen to the words of Mickey Mantle, circa 1995.

"God gave me the ability to play baseball. He gave me everything and I just wasted it ... Don't be like me, don't drink yourself dead, don't do drugs."

   The author of the ESPN article, Shaun Assael, wrote an excellent book on Vince McMahon and thus wrestling in general. Reads incredibly well ... I highly advise reading it, even if a lot of the info is rehash for people who have any wrestling background.

   And in another story I half followed, The Bachelor ended. Never watched it once, and from what I'm weaning, I'm glad. The end of the show is a marriage proposal? After six weeks?! And this wasn't supposed to happen? Or did it not matter, because they stopped counting ratings once life leaves the picture box?

   How is this not "Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire" all over again? Why, because there's roses and candlelit dinners, it's not 25 asses being paraded by a walking jawbone? How many questions can I write in a row? Four? Five? Am I way off here? Will anyone who watched the show explain to me how it's not a meat market?

   So in the same week, Darva Conger gets married "for real" and TV's next 'couple a la boy band' is sent off on their way. I love it when a plan comes together. Maybe soon, we can get public autopsies on TV. I can see an actual commercial, with zero tongues in cheeks, that says, "When is a diet pill worth $153 a bottle? When you're twenty pounds or more overweight."

   I've got news for the Leptoprin people. I don't think mercury costs $153 a bottle. If people want to get thin that much, they can get a nuke from the North Koreans for like $75 bucks.

   And Aaron ... Brooke was cuter.


November 21, 2002 - Flushed
   • Urinal cakes.

   Throughout the warner months, Whale City had the rich smell of a fishing port ... of a coastal community. The thick salty air, not so much smelling good as just smelling. You kinda just started to expect it when you went outside -- even with windows open, it never much permeated through screens.

   When it got cold, it didn't really smell like much of anything. Just brisk, which isn't so much a smell as it is a reminder that you own all those sweaters for a reason.

   But tonight, it's pure urinal cake. If it was raining, I'd swear the car whoosh was a flushing sound. Right out of work, not a doubt in my mind, the whole of downtown New Bedford wafted of cake. That minty urinal clean.

   Plus there's a fog as thick as country gravy. The kind that just swallows up whole buildings and gives the profound sense, especially when the streets are midnight empty, that you're dead and wandering lost. No large landmark buildings ... just an overwhelming grayish white. Actually, there was a disembodied lit conference room about twenty stories up across the way, but sadly for you, I'd don't find myself drawn to it.

   It all brings me back, to one of those quotes that lives on well past its (debatable) reality.

"Sage smells like pee."
-- One Cooch to one Meg, leaving Chavez Ravine.

* - * - *

   I never had a little sister, so there was never a doll contingent in my house. We weren't even a G.I. JOE family ... closest we ever came to being normal kids was through Micro Machines and toy cars. But even that wasn't much. I think it was all part of my Dad's plan to create that special bond with the automobile that he had when he was a kid. You know the type ... can pick make, model and year of a ride just by seeing the taillight.

   If this was his goal, he failed miserably. I can ID a Hummer, a Honda CRV and a lawnmower. Maybe that's why he got pissed and called me gay. Or maybe it's because the 'pissed" I'm referring to involved scotch and soda.

   Anyway, back to the manly talk of dolls. The Barbie people at Mattel, proud sponsors of depression, vomiting and playtime for over 50 years, have lost the top of the market to the people at Bratz, who market more real-to-life dolls.

   "Real to life" meaning platform boots, pouty lips and belly shirts. Basically, they look like real girls, as opposed to Barbie, who hasn't looked real in her princess dress since 1957.

   Flying across the AP wires tonight was the release of My Scene Barbie, a direct ripoff of the multi-ethnic, big eyed, fashion conscious dolls now popular with America's, well, I don't want to call anyone's daughter a skank, but ...

"I'm not into Barbies," said Alex Stallings, 7, of Baltimore, who has five Bratz dolls. "Bratz are cool. I am into fashion."

   You're seven years old. You don't get to be into fashion when you're seven. You get to be into Play Doh. You get to be into fake jewelry and having tea parties. You want to be into fashion at seven. Let your older brother stuff you in a dresser drawer.

"Over the past decade, girls have been playing with Barbie at a younger age -- her core fans are now 3 to 6, down from 7 to 10 years ago -- and outgrowing her sooner. Bratz dolls appeal to older girls who like a teenage look rather than Barbie’s princess fashions."

   I am happy to see that the pre-teen girls out there now are wearing less clothes than they were when I was a kid, if only because had I been that oblivious to it growing up, I'd now be punching myself in the face. This is not a subject that should trouble me, but it does.

   Seven year olds should not be wearing feather boas to school. They should not have big pouty lips and be wearing platforrm boots. They should be dressed like seven years olds dress, because we're reaching the point where they're going to get to high school age, and they're just going to start going to class naked.

   At which point, I'm going to be thirty. And I really don't need to be fascinating about high school girls when I'm thirty. I don't need to be fascinating about them now ... I think I've officially in the "getting creepy" camp, with the next step up around 25.

   This is what amazes me about this stuff. Your average busybody parent will now let their child buy a CD with swears on it, won't let them watch an R-rated movie, but will let them play with dolls wearing outfits that they would never let their children wear ever.

   And then they end up on Maury, and I find them, and I watch for the sheer comedy, and it kills so much of my afternoon that I don't have time to get a haircut again.

   Some people's hair grows longer, be it in mullet form or what have you. Mine just heaps and splits, creating the "brown hay" effect popular among the blind and homeless.

   I've been wearing a hat to work, but even that's not helping. It looks like I'm trying to put twenty pounds of pine needles in a 12-pound garbage bag. The back of my neck looks permed. If I'd let my sideburns grow naturally, they'd have looped around my nipples by now.

   There's not really any way to follow that, is there.


November 20, 2002 - Girls Gone Conservative
   • So would you pay $19 to watch a chunker's autopsy?

   The story goes like this. German doctor Gunther von Hagens already has an exhibit called 'Bodyworlds' in an old brewery, where one can view various preserved corpses including, if I understand correctly, a dead pregnant woman complete with fetus. Tonight, complete with trademark fedora, the doctor performed the first public autopsy done in Britain in 170 years. Wheeled out a 72-year-old German who had agreed to this before death and, before a sellout audience who ponied up $19 a piece to be there, performed a complete autopsy, right down to declaring a cause of death -- heart or lung failure.

   As might be expected, the reserved Brits have their ascots all soiled over this. You start wheeling out dead guys (even if they are German) and cut them up to a backdrop of laminated corpses ... your average Right Honorable Gentlemen is soil his best dickey. They want the whole exhibit out of the country. Only trouble being it's legal and it's attracted an audience. People want to see this, and they did.

   Meg, as expected, did not. She was much too busy exploding my speakers. And really, that's for the best. I already have one friend who would find such macabre entertaining, and suffice to say I'd never date him.

   But as I have no major opposition to people paying for a scientific display, even if it does involve the public passing out of pancreii, we'll move on.

"Tiger Woods, who has won the Masters three times, could simply choose to stay home in April. The absence of golf's best player would put a dreaded asterisk by the name of next year's winner. And a tournament without Mr. Woods would send a powerful message that discrimination isn't good for the golfing business. Of course, if Mr. Woods took that view, the club might suddenly find room for a few female members. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for example, is said to be a very good golfer."
-- The vaunted New York Times editorial, from Monday.

   I was looking for an excuse to talk about this after I'd missed the chance to write another column about it. Got one after a startlingly good debate on WEEI, which I will now appear to entirely rip off as my own.

   So, the New York Times wants Tiger Woods to boycott the upcoming Masters, because Augusta National continues to refuse to admit a woman. Where to begin ...

   1. Singling out Tiger. Whether you're asking Woods to boycott because he's the world's best golfer or because he's a black who has fought similar discrimination isn't important. Either way, it's unfair to force him to be the poster boy for your cause, because last I checked, getting a woman into Augusta isn't his problem. If you want to ask all the top Tour pros to boycott, and then they decide to, by all means. But don't steal his shot at history, something he's worked his whole life for.

   Regardless of whether you think Tiger should take a stand, bear in mind he's trying to become the first player to win three straight Masters. Yeah, not happening.

   2. Pot calling kettle black. The New York Times is far and away the nation's highest brow newspaper. You'd be hard pressed to find a paper whose arts coverage is more thorough. Wine tastings. Social clubs. The lives of New York socialtes ... all worlds essentially based on the same discrimination system that Augusta National is based on. All worlds the Times will continue to suckle for as long as it is profitable to. And that's what pisses me off the most.

   The Times will profit heavily this spring when they print their annual "Masters Newspaper Supplement." Sixteen or so extra pages, where they'll do color pieces on the upcoming event, but more importantly pull in big ads from high-brow sponsors like American Express, Mercedes Benz, Toshiba, etc.

   Would it not make more sense for a paper with such a social conscience to not run such a section, nor cover the tournament beyond running the bare-bones results each day? To do what they can to show their displeasure? Of course not ... so much easier to point a finger when it's not as yourself.

   The greatest example of that being, of course, this very website.


   3. So What? If Tiger were to boycott the event, do you really think a man as stubborn as Hootie Johnson is going to bend? He's going to halt the greatest event in golf for the boycott of one player, and thus show just who really runs things? Do you think the other players are going to rally around Tiger, or be glad to finally have a shot at winning again?

   When the first black joined Augusta in 1990, Jesse Jackson wasn't pounding on the door. There was a far more effective push ... a gentle pressure from the masses. That's what's missing here. It seem for as connected as Martha Burk would like to be to the female gender, she fails to see that to the average woman, this is a non-issue in the same way my inability to get into Augusta National (because I'm poor and not Old South) is a non-issue. Admitting any woman, even if it is Sandra Day O'Connor, isn't going to make more women CEOs. It's not going to end workplace discrimination. It won't stop a damned thing other than Martha's friggin mouth.

   Course, maybe that might be worth it.

"I guess what I have trouble believing is that Augusta really matters in the affairs of men and women. It's a golf course where, once a year, they play a great tournament. It has as much political relevance to me as, say, Civil War reenactments."
-- Sally Jenkins of SI ends the sports talk for the day. And the rest of it too.


November 19, 2002 - Too Much Thinking About IRAs
   Today's Odd Fact Weaned From MTV Cribs: Rasheed Wallace, who lives in a Portland (Ore.) mansion and will make $16.2 million playing for the Blazers in 2002-03, has a refridgerator full of noted cola knock-off Simply Soda.

   Today's Odd Fact Weaned From Yesterday's Comments: Matt Bruce has said my column for this week is by far the best I've ever written. Can't say I saw that coming, but I was happy with it. Much thanks, my friend.


   • Brainteaser for the anti-sports folk out there.

   Quarterback A started the first five games of the season, and put up these numbers:

90 for 129 - 912 yards - 1 TD, 8 INT's - 66.4 QB Rating
-- During this period, his team lost five straight games.

   An injury then sidelined Quarterback A. For the next five games, Quarterback B took his place. He produced these numbers.

113 for 173 - 1,496 yards - 12 TD's. 4 INT's - 106.0 QB Rating
-- In these five games, the team went undefeated.

   Take injuries out of the equation. Who would you start in Game 11?

   If you answered Quarterback A, congratulations. NFL coaching could soon be in your future.

   Throw out that Marc "B" Bulger has screwed up his finger, and thus couldn't play for the Rams now anyway. Mike Martz had named Kurt Warner his starter for Sunday before that little convenience happened. If even the simple numbers weren't enough for you, wouldn't you think that after the EXACT SAME SITUATION had publicly humiliated you in the Super Bowl, that you wouldn't at least humor people by staying with the backup?

   Of course you wouldn't. You're Mike Martz, the smartest man in the world.

   In an entertaining correlary, Allen Iverson fears the Fuzz. But wait, why woule the police in Philadelphia hate Allen Iverson, the star of the city's basketball team?

   Gosh, you don't it could have to do with that rap song, do you? You know, the one with the "faggot tendacies," the "bitch azz niggaz y'all killin don't amaze us." That couldn't have offended anyone, could it?

"'My husband never hit me,
and he did not throw me out of the house naked,' Tawanna Iverson said."
-- Is there ever a point in one's life, whether it's true or not,
where this should have to be said?

   It's funny. After Philly's game tonight in New Orleans, Eric Snow didn't say he feared the Philly cops. Derrick Coleman seemed OK. Todd MacCulloch? Keith Van Horn? They were all just bummed about losing. None of them thought the police were going to shoot them. Wonder why?

   Maybe it's because they hadn't spent their whole careers trying to be "the shit."

   So Answer, you want to be the star? Be ghetto fabulous? Rap about niggaz and tearing up fags? You want to fuck tha police? Then grip the backlash. You want the millions? Then enjoy the whole ride.

   It's an amazing thing. Never once have I feared a crooked cop or a dsgruntled anybody was coming to mow me down. Two reasons. I'm nobody, and I'm OK with it. Simple as that.

   Oh, and did everyone hear Darva Conger's getting married again? As she calls it, it's her "first real marriage." That's funny, I didn't know she had actually been on "Who Wants To Only Hug A Multi-Millionaire (To Adavance Their Flagging Acting Career)"

   This was just one of those days where there's not even the strength to put together a narrative. Sometimes stupidity is just presented better not in a story, or a sonnet, but in "overwhelming." Especially when the day starts the following flights appearing as "in heavy demand" on Expedia.

BOS to LAX, with stopover in Orange County, Calif.
-- LAX and OC being approximately 30 miles apart.

BOS to Hartford, with stopovers in Baltimore and Philly.
-- Flight time of six hours for airports 90 miles apart.

And my personal favorite, as suggested by Boggie ...
Washington (WAS) to Washington (DCA), with connection at LaGuardia, New York.
-- $116. Four hours flight time. Airports FOUR miles apart.


November 18, 2002 - BU B-Ball in the NIT?
   And they almost beat Stanford?! Get out the bandwagon!

   • I've been known to get a little agitated at the office on occasions when someone "discovers" they have the following week off -- given people request vacation long before they actually receive the time off, it's not uncommon for Fred to say, "So, you're off next week" and have it met with, "I am? Glad I found out!"

   The general office response is a sarcasm-coated "So, you going anywhere?" A nougat of well wishes, blended with the angst of not finding that proverbial $20 in the coat pocket. One of the reasons I think I've adapted to liking work is because the office, though most are much my senior, runs primarily on takeout and sarcasm.

   Well, turns out Tuesday is my Veterans Day holiday, a fact I'd conveniently misplaced. Had I not checked in via IM to see if the column had made it through cyberspace alive, I'd have had to sling out the sheepish grin, the red face and the anguish of a 126-mile commute one day too soon just in time for Tuesday night's update. Really, it worked out for everyone.

   Plus, because I "owe" the company a day for my afternoon trip here a month from this writing, I'd undoubtably be asked to stay for the evening.

   And as all you young ones will learn someday, there's nothing like working on your weekend and waiting 30 days for the check to clear.

   Nothing except ... well, we won't beat that horse anymore.

   In the end, what's troubled me most about my abbreviated time off at New Year's is that I have no case at all. I'm essentially angry over something I can't prove, and really, I'm lucky to have gotten what I did. Then again, had I gotten nothing, I'd save at least $500. Even in a wrap-up, I can't forge an argument!

   I am now officially become the third Couture to enter the reality behind Dilbert, but the first who'll ever realize it. We never could figure out what a pre-teen Matty C. saw in those cartoons anyway.


What's Really Important? Real Life.
-- Unfortunately, I edited out the part where I called Oakland "San Francisco's ugly best friend." I just couldn't justify pissing on the working man like that.


November 17, 2002 - And They Fall

Kansas City
17
Buffalo
16

Cleveland
27
Cincinnati
20
-- You've all been so respectful and non-smacktalking.
Drunk? Catatonic? Vertigoed? The worders never cease.

   • There was a time, not all that long ago really, when a major network allowed the following phrase to be uttered on its airwaves.

"You're watching UPN ... Dilbert's network!"

   Dilbert's small-screen run was not long for this world, for it had many of the problems most shows encounter. It was intelligently written, and thus over the head of 75% of the prime time audience, and it was quirky enough to alienante any normal UPN viewer who ended up seeing it.

   Stumbling across a tape of several old episodes was the only thing that could derail's tonight's train of Travel Channel in Las Vegas specials. It's a good thing I found it, because I don't know how else I'd have maintained my health-damaging sleep schedule of late.

   For the past week, I'm running on about a 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. clip. To be poetic about it, it fucking sucks. And it's not something one can stop, because sleep tends to happen when you're tired, and tired tends to happen when you're sleepy. As you can see, I'm in a proverbial death spiral, only without the glittery costume and overly made up parter which usually accompanies the figure skating version.

   But enough about that.


   Because shows like Dilbert (or Sports Night, NewsRadio and whatever else does it for you) get bumped off TV, there has to be something to fill the airwaves. And what do we get left with?

   Raiders owner Al Davis being interviewed, at length, about how the NFL is out to get him. We get grown men and women at Raider games dressing like pirates, vampires and marauders of whatever flavor you prefer.

   This would be much easier if I could find a transcript of the interview, but just knowing its the 'Sunday Conversation' on SportsCenter will have to be enough. Plus the knowledge Al Davis is insane.

   As the Patriots hopes faded tonight, ESPN's Mike Patrick talked of "revenge being a dish best served cold." Aside from a night of sixty degrees and pristine compared to thirty with slush on the ground back east, there may not be one word in his quote that properly transfers the feelings supposedly going on.

   So sir, your sign reads "IT WAS A FUMBLE." What ... ten months ago now? Rules still say it was, and while I know you probably bonded with your son while you painted his face black and silver, don't you think wearing fake vampire fangs makes you look a little ... how can I put this ... silly?

   I suppose it all worked out for the best. The people of Oakland can now sleep again, knowing they taught the New England Patriots a lesson about listening to a referee's decision. And the Patriots, well, they can keep wearing their rings. That, is how you serve revenge cold. Cold like a diamond.

   As for me, it's back to not sleeping and hoping something newsworthy happens, because I'm really getting tired of publishing nothing all day. Too bad Dilbert didn't become enough of a hit to make this quotable from '99 seem eerily foreshadowing.

Dilbert, at computer: Geez, the network is slow today. Too slow ... oh no!

(runs to printer)

Dilbert: Is it?

Alice: Nothing but resumes! People are bailing out.
There must be a problem with our new flagship product.

Wally: What, the new throat lozenges?

Dilbert: I told them at the rollout meeting that
anthrax was a bacteria, not an herb!

   Those lozenges wiped out a town, despite moistening throats and eliminating raspiness. Good to see humor can still be gotten from human tragedy, even if the Dilbert case was 30 months short of blasphemy.


November 16, 2002 - Eleven Pages
   • Just to reiterate ...

"It's as simple as something that nobody knows that
Her eyes are as big as her bubbly toes
On the feet of the queen of the hearts of the cards
And her feet are infested with tar balls and
La da da da da da ..."
-- I just hope someone got the number of that runaway trailer.

   7-3?! Sweet Christmas. Once again, thanks to the Boston University Ticket Office for sparing me a heaping shovelfull of angst.

   We'll instead place our irrational angst on the cardiac kids of college football, one of those schools whose awful damn possessive about their articles. THE Ohio State University kept their undefeated dreams alive today by beating a game Illinois team in overtime, 23-16. The Buckeyes survived the Illini's kicker barely missing a 59 yard FG in regulation, then watched as two near Illinois touchdowns in the OT were ruled a bobble and a catch out of bounds.

   The fact that, in both cases, it was the right call is only sort of important.

   TOS U. now stands at 12-0. Conveniently ignoring a blowout victory over Minnesota, they have won their last four games by a combined 23 points -- 19-14, 13-7, 10-6 and 23-16. I've seen a good portion of these games because of when I work ... I tend to get in just as the day's big games are ending, and thus see them on the sports TV.

   I can't really put my finger on why, but I've developed a stiff dislike for TOS U. I want to see them fail, possibly just because every week, it just seems like the shoe is finally going to drop. I don't think it has anything to do with Maurice Clarett, a freshman who's trying to declare for the NFL draft (and thus turn it into the joke college basketball has become), because I don't really have a rooting interest. I don't think it has to do with anything other than the simple psyche of the New England sports fan.

   This isn't supposed to happen. If you keep scraping by, you're supposed to flame out fiercely and severely. And as much as want to believe Michigan will again prove THE undoing, as BC did to Notre Dame, I just don't know.

   And a Two-Minute Drill the rest of the way out, since that 126.05 miles aren't driving themselves ...

    The World's place in the world. A lot of the time when I'm buzzing through the other journals and blogs I read, I realize just how unfocused and pointless mind can often can be. I mean I've had my peaks -- the travelogues, the live running diary of the Super Bowl -- but so much of the collection is just utter and complete dreck, much like every Oasis studio album after Be Here Now.

   But as I rationalized, maybe that's the point. Maybe the point is that it is crap, and that once people are done reading the intelligent flowing prose of the James Lileks's, they need to read crap ... just to cleanse the palate.

   So in house, the new tagline for the site will be: "Cooch's World - Even crap needs a home." Tell your friends, or should you have something to add, tell the comments widget below.

    Apparently morality has a statute of limitations. While Wal-Mart, well known for their selective stocking practices with CDs and video games, does not sell Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, it now does sell its equally-gritty predecessor, Grand Theft Auto 3.

    Going big. Since my usual policy of not disclosing my football bets, which are now back on, has left me deep in the hole for the season, we will attempt to break the jinx of mathematics by going public ahead of time.

Sunday's Bet
Buffalo to beat Kansas City
AND
Cincinnati to beat Cleveland
-- $75 up to win $411 --

   It should be noted this is the second largest wager of this season for me. The largest, $100 on Kansas City (-3) vs. the Jets in Week 5, won. It should also be noted I have $75 riding on the 1-8 CINCINNATI BENGALS.

   And just as an aside, the Patriots are going to get smoked in Oakland. You heard it here first.


November 15, 2002 - Swifty's Sick With The Nausea
   Today's Vice City Moment: The halfway point of GTA3˝ has been breached, and all it took was 42 hours on the dot. Though it likely won't take 100% completion to "beat the game," there's enough side stuff going on that it's worth it to try to clear every nook and cranny. There's supposedly some grand thing you get once you complete the whole thing, but I refuse to read the message boards that would spoil any surprizes.

   Besides, reading Australian teenagers bitch about how their version has had the prostitutes censored out of it, and how there'll all trying to get copies from New Zealand, is entertaining enough.


   • Well, they played. And from what I can infer, it sucked.

"Sophomore Ryan Shannon scored his third goal of the season just 1:02 into the second period and it stood up as the nation's top-ranked Boston College hockey team skated to a 3-2 win over seventh-ranked Boston University in front of a sellout crowd of 3806 at B.U.'s Walter Brown Arena on Friday night (November 15th)."
-- It's worth noting that Mr. Boggie had the brains and blankety-blank to call this one ahead of time.

   BU scored at 7:29 of the first to take a 1-0 ... a lead they would hold for exactly 22 seconds. Just enough time for the goal to be scored and celebrated, to finish the quick first goal "Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!" and to get a good couple seconds into the "Go BU! Go BU!" that tends to follow every goal.

   Tremendous.

   BC would add two more to take a 3-1 about a minute into the second, no doubt causing me flashbacks to the 5-1 drubbing of March 2001, which was followed quickly by another first round exit in the conference tournament. It was also one of only two games I attended with the only Chelsea resident I've ever met ... as I recall, we became convinced she was a bad luck charm for the team and we never really hung out much ever again.

   Well, that's hardly how it happened, but all the facts are true. Much as that saddens me greatly.

   And yet, Psycho Sabo brought the Terriers back to 3-2 with ten minutes left in the second. Much excitement, I'm sure. Much chanting. Much ...

   Nothing.

   A half-hour of close calls for both sides, but no goals. Just hand wringing, loss of voice and having to listen to the BC players and fans taunt us out of our own building. No doubt I would be hoarse as I type this were it twelve months in the past.

   So not only will I now get paid for a night's work and not have cashed in my "calling in sick when clearly not ill" chip, I've still got my voice and I don't have to drive sixty miles. Thank you, Boston University Ticket Office.

   While the Eagles now go home and rest up for UNH Tuesday, our fair Terriers have no time to relax. Saturday night they face the only team we may hate nearly as much as the bitches ... Maine. The Maine of 1999 National Champions. The Maine of knocked us from the Hockey East Semis in 2000 and 2002.

   The Maine of ending my undergraduate hockey fandom with this win, one game short of the Frozen Four.

   It should be noted the hockey season my sophomore year was ended with the second longest game in collegiate hockey history, while the season my junior year ended with the eighth longest. It has not been happy times on Babcock Street.

   In order to properly encapsulate my feelings about Maine hockey and its fans, I consulted with international recording artist Jack Johnson. He sung me this.

"It's as simple as something that nobody knows that
Her eyes are as big as her bubbly toes
On the feet of the queen of the hearts of the cards
And her feet are infested with tar balls and
La da da da da da ..."
-- 'Bubble Toes,' children.

   Maine. Nonsensical, dirty and entirely bereft of any coherent value. GO BU.


November 14, 2002 - Boned, But So Kindly
   Today's Vice City Moment: Exiting the strip club * where I had saved my game, I looked across the street to see a nondescript travel agency, Avec Moi Holidays. Since it was not a store that could be entered, the detail was low. But there were two very clear ads in the window: Tenerife: $299 and Edinburgh: $499

   It's the little things that make some things so great.

   * - While Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a game designed by and for degenerates like myself, even in the 'Pole Position' there is no nudity. The girls dancing on the tables are bikini clad, and in one case, grotesquely fat. Even the girl in the back room giving lap dances is clothed, if one considers a thong and some sort of lace number clothed.

   I've just realized I've talked about this way too much.


   • Travel costs are something to be concerned about, now that the airlines have realized charging next to nothing on flights will soon cause bankruptcy and/or the need to remove other vegetables from Sky Deli salads. The day in which you fly can play a large part in just how much is costs you to fly somewhere. Flying from, say, Boston to Los Angeles on Mondays each way? Can be done for about $200-$250, if not better. Same flight on Saturdays or Sundays? Anything under $300 is a stroke of luck, and $400 is looming on the horizon.

   Now, there is a reason for just such an explanation. One resident of Cooch's World, it seems, was planning a holiday trip out to the Left Coast for New Year's. That resident, being myself, was going out there for all the reasons you'd assume, knowing where my girlfriend originally hails from. (If you don't, I highly recommend you take the tour). I'd planned to go out there for a week to ten days, because to drop a significant chunk on money on a plane ticket, it should at least be a worthwhile trip.

   Once, I spent significant cash on airfare for what amounted to a two-day visit. The destination of that trip could be inferred possibly, but since the person who was being visited now knows I'm talking about them, thus granting me the brownie points for another gratuitous mention, we'll move on.

   The problem with any extended trip, now that in the actual world, is I need time off from work. Knowing the odds of the lowest seniority person getting a week off before he has any vacation, I asked a long time ago. I was told, oddly enough, it "probably wouldn't be a problem." The fact that I'm telling this story at all, as opposed to the "I don't care" factor of the PGA TOUR's return to Boston, that there was a problem.

   I've been asked to work the Friday-Saturday of New Year's Week, which really wouldn't bother me at all if my boss hadn't a) told me I could probably have the whole week and b) tried to tell me when, showing me the schedule, the three days was what I had asked for.

   It's hard for me to write about this, because I'm not really mad about it. I'm glad (and rather amazed) I got any time off in the first place, but to be artificially led to believe I'd have the whole week off up to as recently as the beginning of this week ... it's more than a little aggravating.

   Now, instead of a Monday to Monday flight, I'm stuck with a Saturday or Sunday (the first only if I cut work) to Thursday. A whopping four days ... just enough to get me acclimated to it being 80, then throwing me back into it being 30. It kinda makes me wish I was faking sick Friday to go to the BU-BC game.

   Unfortunately, no alumnus not suckling at the season ticket teat will be at that game. Despite the ticket office's stupidity, and the likelihood the BU Student Union will now see fit to play hero for the downtrodden, I do wish the boys the best of luck against the preppy bastards and their number one ranking.

   And as for the above, I really didn't have much to say other than I now have to debate whether I should go at all. But since I probably will anyway, yeah.


Cooch: Crashing California
-- In a continuing effort to only travel places I can make alliterations with involving my name. Coming reasonably soon.


November 13, 2002 - Do(ugh)nuts and Domino(e)s
   Maybe it is just padding my own ego with the failings of others, but today's Rhyme Time with D.S. is the biggest piece of shit I've seen published in months. There's phoning it in, there's mailing it in, yet this falls so woefully short of both.

   And to be able to sneak another Red Sox reference into a column in no way related to them borders on a capital crime.


   • While not a capital crime, I just can't let the AL MVP voting go. Sorry Matt, but I'm not buying the Tejada argument. Never did I think I would defend Alex Rodriguez, but he truly was the Most Valuable Player to his team.

   The MVP is not supposed to be about whose team did the best -- that would be why they give out the World Series trophy. The MVP should go to the Most Valuable Player, whom I feel is A-Rod.

   If you want a numbers argument, .300-57-142 trumps .308-34-131 in my mind. Looking at the Texas lineup, Rodriguez had essentially no protection, as the team's record proves. Tejada had a good year, but was one of many on the A's who did as well. It's not like you could pitch around Miguel and get to an easy out. Though I suppose you wouldn't be pitching around A-Rod, since most teams were ahead of the Rangers 15-1 in the 4th inning. But besides that, read the words of the award.

   Which was truly more valuable to his team?

   Yes, the A's were a playoff team, and the Rangers finished last. But take Tejada away from the A's, and they're still contending for a playoff berth. Maybe they don't get 100 wins, but they're still a solid 90-win team. Take A-Rod away from the Rangers. Those 70 wins drop quickly and definitely. 50 wins? 45 wins? Never mind the fact the entire state of Texas stops paying attention to baseball from June on ... the Rangers become Devil Ray bad.

   I will admit the two are very close, and Miguel Tejada had the kind of season deserving of an MVP award. But so did Alex Rodriguez, and for him to be so thoroughly blown out is something I'm not buying.

   And you know what else I'm not buying? This:

"Middle school is a time many students make life changing decisions."
-- In a story about a Whale City school's career fair.

   Fifth grade? Sixth grade? Life changing decisions?! I don't even think I picked out my own school clothes in fifth grade! I got in trouble once for putting milk in someone's pudding! Did that fateful decision, which cost me a quarter because I had to buy the kid a new pudding, stop me from the Presidency and throw me on a fast track to the presidency?

   And that little bastard that tattled on me to the band teacher? For putting milk in a milk-based substance? He grew up to be Charlie, the not-so-secret crush of one Margaret Kociemba. Life really does come full circle sometimes.

   But no, apparently these kids seeing demonstrations from doctors, actresses and what have you will keep them from being the people shooting guns off up the hill from my apartment. Hey, you never know. Maybe some day, when little Joao is saving a whale, he'll remember that day, so very long ago at Normandin Junior High ...

"Students delighted in examining X-rays of an iguana with a broken leg and a cat with a stomach full off bread ties, as well as a diseased dog’s heart in a jar."
-- Bread ties and a diseased heart. Now where's that New Bedford Domino's menu ... I'm reminiscing.


November 12, 2002 - Trash Bags And Breakfast Foods
   The complaints are just pouring onto the shores! Senor Eyeball finds an odd resemblance between my latest column and Shank's work of three weeks past. The fine folk at the BSMW must be drinking the same coffee, decreeing "Jon Couture has an original thought....give the job to Mike Port."

   Hey, I've got no inside unnamed sources I can phone in, and I don't think my making some up would have improved the end result any. My editor liked it, and given it lifted the number of GM stories in the Standard-Times up to a whopping one, it achieved its goal. And just as a note, if I'm ever going to rip off a Boston sportswriter, Dan Shaughnessy's not exactly the first name I'd pull out of a hat.

   But hey, criticism's better than being left alone. So thanks guys!


   • Sometimes you just see a story so perfect, you wonder if it's all just a put-on.

Author of Books on Stupidity Arrested
for Allegedly Trying to Solicit Girl over Internet

   LANTANA, Fla. — A man who has written two books on stupidity was arrested for allegedly trying to arrange sex with a 15-year-old girl over the Internet. The girl turned out to be an undercover male detective.

   James F. Welles, the 61-year-old author of 'The Story of Stupidity' and 'Understanding Stupidity,' was taken into custody last week after arranging to meet the girl at a restaurant, investigators said. He was charged with soliciting a minor over the Internet and was released on bail.

   He did not immediately return a call to his Pompano Beach home Friday.

   According to police, Welles was aware of the possibility of a sting, saying in one message that he worried about "the state of Florida looming in the background."


   You know ...

   No, I'm not going to ruin that. Good day, all.


November 11, 2002 - Somewhere, Mark Cuban's Smiling
   • This would be how not to write a press release. From ESPN.com's "College Sports" section:

Defending champion Santa Clara seeded sixth

   Defending champion Santa Clara was seeded sixth for the NCAA Women's College Cup, as the complete 64-team field was announced Monday.

   Stanford received the top ranking and North Carolina was seeded second.

   The tournament begins Friday at various campus sites, while the College Cup semifinals (Dec. 6) and final (Dec. 8) will be played at the University of Texas.

   Rounding out the nation's top eight seeds for the College Cup are No. 3 Pepperdine, No. 4 Connecticut, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 7 UCLA and No. 8 Portland.

   Of the teams selected, 12 are from the West Coast. Along with Santa Clara and Stanford, there is California, Portland, Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Pepperdine.


   So ... what sport are they playing again?

   It's since proven to be soccer, but that's beside the point.

   Lost in all the reporting on Sunday's miraculous Patriots comeback (from 27-6 to 33-30 in 20 minutes) is the fact the Patriots, the Super Bowl champions, the anointed ones, were losing 27-6 to the 2-6 Chicago Bears. Only roses for these anointed ones, never mind the fact they spent the first two and a half quarters of the game throwing up on themselves.

   This is not a team who's going to do well in the playoffs as they are now. You can't give points away, you can't putz around for half a game and expect to win it. But as the calls roll in from fans, sure that they're looking at the division champions, you never hear that.

   Take the New York Giants, also 5-4. A team with a weaker schedule coming in, with more consistency on both sides of the ball. Also playing in a division where no team is really stepping out from the crowd. And yet they're anointed to have no shot at the playoffs, and to be completely awful.

   Tom Brady's 2,472 yards isn't far ahead of Kerry Collins's 2,341. Look at the numbers yourself. Granted, the touchdown differential is a little severe, but Tiki Barber's having a better season that Antowain Smith. The fact that I even have an argument ought to bring your average Pats fan back to earth.


   I really love the Giants this year, even if Jeremy Shockey can't catch. It just makes me glad I didn't find that U. of Miami football jersey I was looking for in the preseason.

   Especially since five weeks away from having my wardrobe entirely replaced. Don't ask ... just let her know that you like the longer hair with more grace than I did.

   And also in the long hair vein, take a look at the weather girl down left if it's still over 60 in Whale City. Good Lord.

Sox Don't Have To Look Far For GM
-- More an answer to the complete lack of Red Sox GM coverage the paper has had. Regardless, I had a point, and hopefully I made it.


November 10, 2002 - Bowling for Buffalo Wings
   Because writing about my new maroon curtains and how they transform the Whale City living room just doesn't seem appealing ...

   • NFL history was made today, and not just because there was a tie for the first time in five seasons. For the first time in National Football League history, two quarterbacks threw for over 450 yards on the same day.

   And your conquistadors are 473-yard Tommy Maddox, best known for being the only XFL MVP in the history of the universe, and 453-yard Marc Bulger, who began the season as the St. Louis Rams third-string quarterback.

   Just the guys we thought would do the deed.

   In equally long odd news, I threw down a couple more bets today, running my season record to 1-1496. Amazingly enough, I lasted almost three hours before having to regret any decisions made today, also a league record.

   • Somewhere out there, in non-Internet land, there's a book floating about called "Under The Crown." Written by a former Miss SouthCoast, Miss Massachusetts and first runner-up in Miss America, it tells the story of the contestants in that year's pageant and how Sept. 11 affected them.

   I need to find this, because you know somewhere in it, there's a quote that needs to be posted on a bulletin board in every workplace in America. Something that's just so troubling, it's stupid. Also, I'm setting the over/under on "uses of 'I couldn't imagine who would want to do such a horrible thing to this country'" at seven.

   The more I get into The Cell, the more painfully obvious it becomes that our government, for all its foibles, has saved this country from disaster more times than anyone will ever know. Yet, we will be attacked again, and it will cause a backlash on the government, with many claiming "we knew" and "it just gave us an excuse to attack Iraq." They're not always right, but you know, they ain't half bad either.

   • The Boston sports radio scene is a constant battleground between WEEI and WWZN - The Zone. The stations are fundamentally different -- WEEI has taken on a "guy's guy" format of political, sex and barroom talk interspersed with the sports, while WWZN has tried to bring things up to "a higher level" -- but both seek the same demographic. As such, their programming mirrors in many ways.

   You need know no more about who's winning the fight than this: WEEI currently airs Boston College ice hockey, the jewel of the city scene. WWZN, well, they had to get the leftovers.

   Friday night, it's the first shootout of the year. Boston College at Boston University. If you give even the slightest care about college hockey, or even the sport at all, you owe it to yourself to see one of these games in Walter Brown Arena while you still can. They'll both be top-ten, playing under the tin roof ... good God. No one should even have to sell you on this.

   • I can't write a column about this because I don't have the facts and don't have the support, but the homeristic shit in the New England Patriots radio booth really has to calm down a little. Gil Santos is an amazing play-by-play man, don't get me wrong, but whomever the zilches are in the background who scream and hoot after every positive play need to be shut up. It's gotten to the point that on something like a replay call, I doubt any and all analysis being provided. There's being a fan, but then there's being biased.

   I'm starting to hate the Patriots. At least with the Giants, every week I know roughly how the game's going to play out -- take a small lead, try hard to lose game, occasionally succeed. The Patriots, however, are a fucking guessing game. Playing a 2-6 team, they lost the first 2-and-a-half quarters 27-6, only to win the last twenty minutes 27-3. They defy any logic that could be concocted by even those smarter than me, so being in a media market and season where there's little else I can write about, having to go "Golly gee willickers!" every seven days has reached the point of grating.

   In New Bedford, in my nicely appointed living room, a well-packed bathroom bag is sitting on my television set. This will make it very difficult to shave my face in the morning, as my razor does not have a 120-mile cord, not do I have arms that can reach that far.

   • Conclusions of list updates are hard.


November 9, 2002 - Six Gunshots, At Close Range
   • Yeah, so I went back to BUCB. And yeah, you can't go home again.

   Don't get me wrong -- I don't regret going back to help the team out today. I was glad to see some the older crew, along with those still left on the team proper. It was good to see the little brother. It was good to go back to Boston, to go back to campus, to wonder where the 25 people in the Warren Towers CampCo were going at quarter til eight on a Saturday.

   But it so wasn't.

   The thing you learn after going through the gamut of running a team, or even just being heavily involved on one, is that the reason there's no people who just run tournaments all the time is because that's no fucking fun. At least when you're a student, you can look at it and see it as a means to an end -- you run events so that you make money, so that you can go on trips, so that you can fill a hotel bathtub full of ice and make it a giant booze cooler.

   Of course, when you only get Sundays and Mondays off, and the tournaments are nearly all Fridays and Saturdays, it changes priorities about a little.

   Working at tournament without having that impetus basically boils down to sitting in a room, reading your throat hoarse, and doing so by yourself with mostly people you don't have much in common with. I mean, I don't really know what I expected to happen today. A good deal of the team is now new people, who there's no real chance I'll get to forge any sort of relationship with. The remnants that I'd like to remain close to, well, I ate lunch with them. Though some of them didn't eat, because they were off taking GRE's and whatnot, but we're talking like an hour's worth of time.

   When you throw that up next to an hour's worth of sleep preceeding the affair, the whole day could have gone much better. We'll leave it at that.

   Look. If you're a quizbowler and you read this with any regularity, you know I consider you "good people." The day boiled down to me cutting my sleep down to an hour so I could read the only questions I'm any good at playing on to a group of generally odd people. You'd think I would have remembered such information, but so be it.

   As soon as the second kid got out of his desk and threw a tantrum (and yes, we're talking actual tantrums) for missing a question, both within a half-hour of the other, the day officially started becoming a countdown.


   So BUCB, in whatever form you get this message, let it be known I'm done. Finished. My usefulness to you is pretty much over. On the rare occasions I make an appearance at an event, it's going to be to freeload. Eat your donuts. Heckle. Actually play college bowl. Like sit with a buzzer and answer questions. It's nothing any of you have done, and I'm not holding a grudge about it. I just don't have the desire to put the time in anymore.

   I'm burnt out on leadership. When Dave Isaacson comes up to me and asks if I have a copy of the rules, I'm just going to say, "Nah. We're wingin' it today. Help yourself to a donut though."

   If you don't already, think of me as a young C. Rosenberg, but without the working for 'Eyeball Monthly.'

   There are plenty of people out there who are good enough players that they continue to enjoy the writing and the working. Hey, more power to them. I'm in awe of them. But I've reached the point I want to sit at the back of the van again, winging pistachios at the driver and complaining about funny smells and the brakes and that I have to pee.

   And not taking shit about flirting with the male Connecticut State Trooper. Course, one could make the argument if I hadn't have been driving the 15-passenger van approximately 90 miles per hour, we wouldn't have had the problem in the first place. Course, we'd still be driving back from Philadelphia or wherever the hell we were, wouldn't we?

   High school probably peaked with the trip to Scotland, or the night I fell asleep in a Denny's booth at three in the morning. College will go down as topping out with any number of Meg-related items, or the consecutive weekend road trips to Chapel Hill, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI, in a humongous van.

   And the fact that I made one of them into a radio piece I then submit for grading? That shouldn't even be legal.

   Amazingly, I didn't lose points for swearing. Though that probably would have changed had I included the part where we were making racist comments while watching an episode of Zoom.


November 8, 2002 - 2.75% - 0.50% = Pissed
   Today's Disturbing, Yet Unsurprising Fact: According to the stats screen, I have played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for exactly 28 hours. That, friends, is over a day of my life I will never get back.

   And I'm only at 30% complete. But enough about that. I'm pissed.



-- Yeah, I drew on the Federal Reserve!

   • Stupid Federal Reserve and his God damned rate cut. What if I don't want to spend money, Alan?! What if I want to leave that to all the idiots who can't afford pants without dung stains, but have a flat-screen TV?

   See, if I was buying a house, I'd be thrilled for the Fed's cut of a half percent off the rate. But I'm not. I'm saving my money, and now I'm out another half percent interest.

   Hey, if people can get all giggly over paying less interest, I can get pissy about not getting as much interest on my cheapitude. Yeah, I'm pissy. And I just don't care.

   And now, my grand return to College Bowl.


November 7, 2002 - Dimples In The Missed
"Hey JonCoochBU, Come and see my Website, i have a live Webcam and doing some striping in front of it ;-) And your Invited! Click here to enter!"

   Today's update is brought to you by spamming IM bot LoueD190, who's apparently such a big fan of painting, she broadcasts it for you. Go ahead, read it again ... you'll see it.


   • So here's the deal with Around The Horn:

   For starters, the show is hosted by Max Kellerman, whose greatest asset seems to be that he's loud and from New York. But he's not really the problem, and given what he's asked to do, I suppose a guy like him is the route one would go. The problem lies in the show's premise, which is essentially that of a game show where the prize is nothing and all the contestants come back the next week.

   The entire nation is represented by five sportswriters, from the Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post and Los Angeles Times. Why New York City is omitted is beyond me, but I suppose it's because the northeast is represented by Boston, which is more fanatical about its sports.

   Captain Fancy, cool your heels.

Kellerman sits in the studio, with four of the five reporters -- a non-rotating stock from the looks of things -- in studios built in their respective newsrooms. Max brings up a topic, and each writer is asked to expound upon it. If he agrees with what the writer is saying, he awards them a point (or two or three) as they speak. If he doesn't, he deducts. If he really doesn't, he can mute the reporter for ten seconds, costing them five points.

   The show carries on through opening and lightning rounds, with points going generally up. Kellerman does deduct sometimes, but he tends to award a lot more. Except in the case of the Denver Post's Woody Paige, who he hates and almost constantly mutes.

   Max will generally go along with a writer if his point makes sense and is at least believable. It's only when stuff is way off, or general crap that he starts buzzing. It works ... sort of.

   After a final trivia question and chance for the writers to protest their scores, a winner is chosen! Most points is the champion! And your prize is?

   You get to talk, uninterrupted, for that many seconds.

   Thud.

   Maybe it wouldn't be such a problem if the guys on the show didn't always end up not having enough material to fill 20 seconds, so they force some terrible pop culture references and bad jokes just so they don't look like idiots. It's like getting your jackpot paid out in pennies. If you were actually captivated and excited, you're left to feel stupid. The writers clearly don't care ... I'm not saying "mailing it in," but thinking "hmmm, paycheck good."

   What really gets me is I don't really see what they could do to make the show worthwhile. Why should the writers care? And thus, why should the viewers care? If you're watching it to see Kelleman be Kellerman -- which is possible, since his shtick as a boxing reporter of just screaming into a headset mike is grand unintentional comedy -- but he's not even full out here. As the Globe's Bob Ryan said in an interview before the first Around The Horn aired, "ESPN's already got four talking head shows on the schedule. But I guess they want another one."

   This thing's burning out quick, mark my words. Watch it while you can ... or better yet, don't watch it. Accept my opinion as boilerplate, and go on with your life as though it never existed.

   The ESPN original entertainment had been going way to well, as everything they'd put up had swished. They were bound for a brick sooner or later.


   On the other hand, Pardon The Interruption (with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon just arguing for a half-hour) might be my favorite non-Simpsons program. There really is a fine line between crap and crysanth... krysanth... pretty flowers.

   And we're done.


November 6, 2002 - They Call Him Duck Vader
   And the election chatter continues.

   • Please explain to me why I don't have to show an ID to vote. This will continue to trouble for every election I go to until it's remedied. When I walk into the Granger School Gymnasium and up to the cafeteria table someone dragged up the stairs, I should give an address, a name and a driver's license. Instead, I give my street, then my house number and name. I then get a white paper ticket, which I carry the roughly 15 feet from sign-in table to voting booth. I hand it over to a polling official before entering the booth, and that's what ensures I can't cheat the system. A piece of paper I hold for all of eight seconds.

   There continues to be nothing stopping anyone from walking in off the street, saying they're me, and voting on my behalf. Or to put a face on it, my father's reassureances that if I didn't want to make the cross-state trek, he'd vote that evening on my behalf, "because the Democrats have been doing it for years."

   And what would the rationale be in not requiring an ID? Undoubtably, it's that volunteer poll workers would have to be trained to check for it. Heaven forbid, because they've already had to be taught to read the sheet of street address, put an 'X' in the box by my name and hand me that ticket.

   If you want to go through all the trouble of registering voters, the least you can do is to make sure a drunk off the street can't walk in, name a street in town, then read a name and address off the list before he's asked to give one. If I can be carded when buying Vice City, I think I should be carded when voting to eliminate the friggin' income tax.

   • Question One. 881,738 people voted Tuesday to abolish the state income tax, about forty-five percent of those who pulled a lever. NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE. Voting, as a group, to take nine billion dollars out of a budget that already doesn't know what to do with itself.

   I'm not even sure I know how to respond.

   If we're running a budget surplus, maybe think about taking out a funding lynchpin. But this is like giving your friend a $20,000 loan when you're working at McDonalds just to pay the interest on your credit card balances. And the fact that Carla Howell had the audacity to ASK FOR MONEY to help get the word out about this borders on hypocrisy.

   • The third party. Three parties, not five. You can't run for governor on a platform of "Get rid of government." or "Legalize pot, then tax it." If you've come up with anything more concrete for Carla Howell or Barbara Johnson, then we can include them too.

   Johnson campaigned at BU on Monday, stressing for pot's legalization and taxation so the money could be put "right back into rehab programs." Last I checked, no one goes to rehab for marijuana smoking, except maybe for Johnson, who must have missed the memo that the only governor BU students would be electing is Carl McCall by absentee ballot.

   Johnson's legacy from this campaign, other than the comic relief of her debates, was that she became the darling of sports talk radio. Her quote of, "I have a bigger set of brass balls than most men I know," was used in WEEI teasers roughly on the hour Election Day.


   Our paper endorsed Shannon O'Brien, hardly a shocker, but at least some on the editorial board bandied about backing Jill Stein of the Greens. While I can't know for sure, I assume one of the big reasons they didn't go that way was the fact there was no chance she could win. And even speaking from where I stand, it's sad that a lot of people can go, "I like her, but I'm not voting for her" and have a point.

   It's very hard to undo a century of two-party politics, and we're still in the mindset of these candidates being no more than detractors to the actual race. Realistically, I don't know how this is ever going to be solved, especially in Massachusetts, where the Democrats are so powerful. I never even considered voting for Jill Stein, because though some of her points at least made sense on the surface, it was little more than a statement vote.

   You could argue just those statement votes, if they did cost O'Brien the election, would be just what the Greens would need to get the Democratic ear (and get their policies heard). But why would a Whale City resident, who's voted Democrat since the '40s and fears Mitt Romney like the plague, do something to get her woman knocked off? The main parties may be coming closer together, but the split's still enough to keep the populace essentially voting against their best fit.

   And speaking of that plague ...

   The fire and brimstone. You'd think we elected Hitler. And were I more popular, someone would make the joke that we did. Maybe take that picture of Romney holding aloft the Boston Herald and Photoshop a giant swastika flag in the background. Hey, it don't take much knowhow to be able to draw in a tiny moustache.

   I can't say I'm surprised. A friend from the Free Press is beside herself. Another's calling him a carpetbagger. A Globe writer makes some good points saying he's only here so he can run for President.

   Would you all like to know why Mitt Romney won? I don't know much about politics, but it doesn't take much to solves this puzzle.

   She's tied to Thomas Finneran, who the voters showed they hate. She was hugely against English immersion, which for racist reasons or not, the state was hugely for. And she came out in the last debate, said she was in favor of allowing 16-year-olds to have abortions without parental permission, then made a joke about her tattoo when moderator Tim Russert said a teen can't even get one of those without a note from Mom.

   Shannon pandered to the party machine, senior citizens and women, and in a lot of elections, that would have gotten it done. Unfortunately for her, most suburbanites don't buy that shit when the state's floating face down.

   And hey, maybe Mitt's not the answer. Maybe this is just a stepping stone for him, and he'll run off to fight John Kerry in an all-Massachusetts presidential election in 2004. Even if he stays, maybe you can't clean up Beacon Hill. Maybe Finneran stays in power and uses his Legislature to ensure Romney does little more than smile in parades and give that movie star wave.

   But is the chance at someone coming in fresh and throwing a new set of eyes on what's wrong here really so bad? Even at the worst, is gridlock really any worse than what's going on now.

   Welcome to Romneyville, children. Please don't push and shove, because there's enough smiles for everyone.

   This ends the semi-annual political discussion portion of Cooch's World. Come back tomorrow to be boggled the Winona Ryder trial and learn why Max Kellerman's Around The Horn is an extremely poor man's PTI.


November 5, 2002 - There's My Catered Dinner
   Complete with five crates of deli sandwiches, potato chips, macaroni salad, fresh fruit and a whole plate of cookies. It's those that became the night's biggest crutch, and now sit in my fridge.

   • These are the nights you remember why you keep doing this. Why you spend night after night reading meaningless news stories, just total dreck ... because of those rare times where the things going on around you are exciting and meaningful and, Heaven forbid, fun. I'll admit it, I don't have much of a stomach for politics. But when Tim Russert gets out his white board, and the calculations start flying, and the graphics start appearing ... I'll sit and watch until four in the morning.

   I'll admit it, I go through life not really giving much heed to the machinations. But give me a sniper capture, or an election night or a terrorist attack, and I can't stop watching. It's like a drug. It becomes a personal challenge to see it through, as it was tonight with the fate of the Senate.

   This especially happens when I become the news source for friends, as with tonight. I like the responsibility ... as much an advertisement to me being in the proper field as I will ever need. Maybe that's why it's so odd the night first call of the gubernatorial race, by WHDH 7 in Boston, was unseen by the entire newspaper staff and delivered to me (via Instant Messenger) by the Honorable Mr. Ellison of Pennsylvania, who was more pissed about the whole thing than anything else.


   In perhaps the oddest turn of events, I noted something from behind the curtain: Despite my conservative leanings, I voted for 11 Democrats out of the 12 offices on the Agawam ballot. Granted, my only other choice in seven races was keeping my hands in my pockets, but given how strong my convictions were for the one Republican, it's quite absurd for me to have blown off the rest of the party.

   Course, it's a nice feeling to know of the 15 levers I flipped (between questions and candidates), 14 of them won. And the 15th was the bilingual ed question, which I letrally must have flip-flopped on a half-dozen times, including after I'd voted no to English immersion.

   My rationale was ... well, I though back to my trip to Tenerife, and how utterly helpless I felt trying to communicate with our cab driver from the airport, who spoke barely a word of English. I didn't see how that was going to help a child learn anything, especially if their native tongue is suspect. But as I thought about it some more, if the alternative was starvation and dying, I probably would have made a pretty hearty effort to learn Spanish. And there really probably isn't a better way that to go headlong into it.

   Then again, I'm 22 and thinking this. A three-year-old might just roll over and die. See? Even now I can't make up my damned mind. Kind of makes me glad the results (68% for immersion statewide, 75% in Agawam) were so definitive, as opposed to having my single vote throwing the entire state into chaos.


   To me, the gubernatorial race came down to simply this: Massachusetts, on the governmental side, is extremely f'd up right now. Who do you want to fix it, somebody with a record of fixing the really f'd up, like, say, the Olympics, or somebody who was invovled with fucking it up in the first place? In my world, the state treasurer doesn't get to run for Governor if the state has no money, whether it's her fault or not.

   And right or not, there's a lot of people in Massachusetts who agree with me. While the big cities all voted Democrat, New Bedford especially, the Burbs were solid for change. And as for Jill Stein losing Shannon the election ...

Mitt -=- 1,087,487
Shannon O'Brien, Jill Stein AND Barbara Johnson -=- 1,071,221
-- Carla Howell's votes would have put O'Brien ahead, but really, if you're voting Libertarian, bigger government really isn't going to be near the top of your to do list.

   This is not meant to be some massive slap in the face, or a major gloating session. I'll be the first to admit there's no guarantee Mitt Romney's going to do anything other than move into his office, see the writing on the wall and jack the income tax up to 17%. All I'm saying is I feel a lot better about the coming four years now that I would have if SOB had the keys to the castle.

   Plus it's on these nights where the profession, for once, doesn't suck.

   New Bedford went O'Brien by a 3:1 ratio, her strongest finish in the entire state. Though Romney won half the towns in the S-T readership, the Dems carried the SouthCoast by almost 20,000 votes.

   Agawam, as an unsurprising postscript for a town the voted Perot in '92, was 5,403 to 3,862 in favor of the next Governor of Massachusetts.


November 4, 2002 - Where's My Catered Dinner?
   • I was going to openly analyze just who I'd be voting for Tuesday, but looking at my ballot, I really don't have that many choices to make. So take the column, and go in peace.

Figuring This Team Out Is Not An Easy Task
-- Hey, no one can ever fault me for not being honest. And if it failed to deliver, well, I've always thought humor was the hardest thing to write.

   My whole thing about the column is I want people to take away something, be it good, bad or whatever. What it is, well, I leave that up to you. Looking at the thirteen pieces I've thrown out there so far, I'm happy with them on the whole. And I'd like to think you are too, if "you" are in fact in my "mysterious readership."

   So go as I must sleep, for election days are long in the journalism business. And that's even before you consider I have to drive 120 miles just to freakin' vote.

   And oh yeah, that Clinton thing responsible for said necessity? Getting into work from straight off the highway, I asked my boss, "So, what did Bill have to say today?" He looked at me, thought about it for a good 10 seconds, and said:

"Well, nothing really."
-- This was roughly eight hours, of course, after Rudy Giuliani "called" the house in Feeding Hills.

   And the experts wonder why kids like me don't care about politics anymore.

   I'm for keeping the income tax, stopping English immersion and eliminating Clean Elections. And in the Governor's race, I care about paying less taxes and affordable housing. So as always, Republican leaning, but never all the way. I remain a man without a party, unless "pro-smart people" counts as an official designation.


November 3, 2002 - Bledsoe Bust
   I can't tell if I'm just too lazy to come up with a better title, or if this is the defining reason I don't want to be laying out the front page of the paper EVER.

   • Thirty-eight to seven. Essentially over by the end of the first quarter, because Bill Belichick had the Bills offensive line completely flummoxed the entire game. Brady had four touchdowns, and regardless of whether he's throwing sixty-yard bombs or five-yard dumpoffs to get them, he got the job done.

   Could I possibly have been any further off on this one?

   I suppose the greatest lesson here is that both the Patriots and the Bills made out like bandits in this deal -- no matter what happens the rest of the way, New England won a Super Bowl and Buffalo has a team they can be proud of again. I'd imagine many area football fans didn't need the lesson, and I'd like to think this puts me among them, but Friday's pro-Bledsoe piece probably wasn't the best way to reinforce the point.

   I never would have written the "Vote Bledsoe!" had I not been asked, but the fact remains I did. I'm really unsure where to go from here, as the knock by many on sports columnists is their choosing to ignore past failures while overblowing successes.

   A lack of other noteworthy events, plus the significance of the game, essentially force me to write about the Pats this week. Do I openly address the fact I was wrong about the outcome, as my own words make readily apparent my beliefs? I'm leaning that way, but any of you who are sports inclined are welcome to weigh in below. Preferably before I write the column, which will be done by noon Monday if all goes according to plan.


   The Patriots now go into Illinois to play the Bears, losers of six straight. There's two ways to look at this, of course:

   • The Bears have lost six football games in a row.
   • This has "gruesome letdown game" written all over it.


   It's funny how one's psyche can change so quickly, as the press leap on the first scenario will be enough to cause tremors in MetroWest. I made $10 this weekend on football bets, and I didn't even make any. A coworker has had me make a couple wagers on his behalf, and one struck me as so farfetched I reasoned I'd pay him the profits myself on the miniscule chance it hit.

   This marks the third straight weekend I've taken a pass on the whole slate of games, leaving my involvement in football to general fandom, an excessive number of fantasy teams and various straight-up "pick the winners" contests at which I currently am mediocre. I originally started betting on football games three seasons ago because it was fun -- maybe I won a little more then than I was lately, but it felt like something I'd be passable at.

   I stopped after the Raiders-Rams game of three weeks ago because it had ceased to be fun. I had a four team parlay going that day - meaning I needed all four teams to come out winners - and the first three had all won. It came down to the Raiders needing to win by three, something losing by 15 makes it difficult to do. Losing that game, and thus the entire bet and chance at large winnings, just took more out of me than I think sports ever really should.

   It certainly wasn't the amount of money I lost, I assure you. There's only been one time I bet an amount of cash that could be classified as "stupid," given my income at the time, and if you've been reading this long enough, I needn't tell you when it was or the outcome of said game.

   I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. I kind of want to start betting on games again, but I kind of don't at the same time. I'm on the fence about whether there's any chance I can salvage the season from a money perspective -- maybe the oddest thing about me being a bettor is how much little losses, like amounts that most people spend on a daily basis, will continue to nag me well past the point I'd have spent that money had I kept it in my wallet.

   Maybe that's cosmically why I do this. It's the grandest irony that a cautious spender, who keeps a full budget ledger of cash flow on his computer, can throw his money around gambling on the slim hopes it'll come back with friends.

   Regardless of my decision, I will not betting on the Patriots-Bears game, and I highly advise you to do the same. At least, don't take the Pats. The spread will be way too high.


November 2, 2002 - Yellow Like A Fox
   Tonight, I found out one of my co-workers once ate six Whoppers (Burger King kind, not malted milk ball kind) in forty-five minutes. I found this humorous and amazing, yet deeply troubling, because I don't think I've eaten six Whoppers in my entire life.

   • Someone tried to kidnap Posh Spice. Now as you try to understand why someone would go after the bitchiest Spice Girl -- because she's the wife of England's soccer captain, David Beckham -- notice who broke the case.

   British newspaper reporters from the News of the World.

   A tabloid. Not even a tabloid in the Boston Herald sense. A tabloid in the National Enquirer sense, doing rock solid journalistic work. This is the equivelant to the National Enquirer foiling a plot to kidnap Madonna, or Sarah Jessica Parker, or whomever girls and fat people look up to while watching Entertainment Tonight.

   I can't stress enough how amazing this is to me. And go to the wires, and find out, it's actually true!

"Police said officers had arrested four men and one woman they believed were part of the conspiracy to kidnap Beckham whose husband is England soccer captain David Beckham after the News of the World tabloid tipped them off. The arrests came during two raids in London, police said."

"'We are very grateful to the News of the World for their actions in this case, which have assisted in the recovery of a number of valuable items and in preventing any other offenses,' said detective chief superintendent John Coles, head of Scotland Yard's Serious and Organized Crime Command."

   When you stop to think about it, it's not that surprising: what else is a tabloid going to follow around that the superstar wife of the nation's greatest footballer? And what goes as a "tabloid" in Britain is over three-quarters of the national print press. Even still, here are the current headlines in Star Magazine, about as close to "reputable supermarket publication" as you're going to get.

"Police Report Shocker ... Whitney [Houston] Threatened To Kill Me!"

"Aniston Red-Faced As Dad Discusses Private Parts"

"Martha Stewart's Empire Unravels"

"Tom Jones: Clean Underwear Is Insulting"

   An five million pound ransom for Victoria Beckham's life ... folied by the peers of the Weekly World News. Enough to make you wonder what The Wolfman and the 125-pound baby have been up to.

   Least they're still sticking to what they know best.


November 1, 2002 - "Super" "Duck"
"He really is the most annoying columnist I've ever read. I was reading his Bledsoe piece, and I was agreeing with what he said, but he's still just annoying."
-- As told to sports editor Jon Comey by a source he wouldn't identify. The fact that its mentioned here should clue you in to the target of said phrase.

   In the backwards world of journalism, Meg's response of "Wow, your first criticism! Yay!" was about equal to my initial reaction. Yes kids, I just might be closing in on "making it" if I've got such vocal detractors. Of course, Lisa's take of "So they like your writing, they just don't like you" put it back in the proper perspective.

   Regardless, criticism is always as welcome as adoration. Onward.



   • Meet the Oregon Ducks, for young and old.

   Now, I'm distressed. At last week's football game against USC, the University of Oregon unveiled it's new mascot, as shown on the left. Standing to the right? The old mascot.

   Oregon changed it's athletics logo a few years back, from one featuring the old Duck screaming and shaking his fist through a block letter 'O' to the thinner letter 'O' now featured on both's chests. When they did that, plans were put in the works to get a new mascot as well, as the old Walt Disney-designed one just didn't seem to be fitting anymore.

   Boston University changed it's logo, with much the same fanfare, about a year before I came to campus and acknowledged the school's existence. The old logo, much like here, featured a depiction of the mascot at least similar to what they look like in real life. Much as I like the current Rhett, your average Boston Terrier looks a little less impressive.

   And to be honest, I had acknowledged BU before I applied there. I recall watching the 1995 NCAA Ice Hockey championship game, Maine vs. BU, and cheering for the Black Bears. In hindsight, I'm glad I was on the wrong side of a 6-2 decision that day.


   Now Rhett, say what you will, looks like a dog. I don't know who designed him, be it PR firm, student or what have you, but they did an excellent job of marrying the dog with an attractive mascot. Both aspects are in there, and the final product is something to be proud of. When Boston College re-did their logo two years ago, same thing. Oregon ... not so much.

   In no reality is that a duck. That's a spaceman with a beak on his helmet. A frightening harbinger of death wearing Nike soccer gloves. Kids are going to see that and have nightmares, there's not a doubt in my mind. If Attack of the Killer Tomatoes had the production values of the Oregon Ducks new mascot, it would have won twelve Oscars.

   So I investigated as to who we could thank for this, the replacement of Donald Duck with Royce, the imbiber of human souls.

"A big difference to University of Oregon fans who watched Saturday as the school hatched its redesigned, space-age Ducks mascot. Surely more than a few old hippies in Eugene thought they were having flashbacks to the last long-ago Grateful Dead show at Autzen Stadium. It was just the birth of a sleek, creatine-boosted mallard created with help from Nike and a Broadway costume designer."
-- Thank you, Page 2.

   A Broadway costume designer. For the University of Oregon, the school that has taken out skyscraping billboards in Times Square for the past two seasons to tout their team's Heisman hopeful.

   I never would have thought it was possible for an entire college campus to, at once, become completely and utterly starstruck. And really, I have nothing else to say.

   Except this, since it fits nowhere else. Bill Clinton is coming to Whale City on Monday, to stump for Shannon O'Brien with Mr. Longface and Unkie Drinks Too Much. I'd probably go listen to him if I were here, but the only direct impact it'll have on me is the OT shift I'm working because we're grossly understaffed for his visit.

   And oh yes, that means I'll have to traverse southern New England four times in a four-day span if I want to vote. I'm just thrilled, let me tell you.


2002: [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]